Philippines challenges Beijing to arbitrate dispute and summons China’s representativea

Philippines challenges Beijing to arbitrate dispute and summons China's representativea
Philippines challenges Beijing to arbitrate dispute and summons China’s representativea

In an attempt to protest “aggressive actions” in the South China Sea over the weekend, the Philippines called for China’s envoy on Monday. Meanwhile, Manila’s defense minister challenged Beijing to support its expansive claims to sovereignty by bringing them before an international arbitration panel.

In the latest of several outbursts in the past year, the foreign ministry accused China’s coastguard of deploying water cannon against a civilian boat carrying troops on Saturday at the Second Thomas Shoal. It claimed that the incident damaged the boat and injured some crew members.

The Chinese embassy’s charge d’affaires had been called in, and a diplomatic protest had been filed in Beijing, according to a statement released by the Philippine foreign ministry. It said, “China’s continued interference with the Philippines’ routine and lawful activities in its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is unacceptable.”

Saying that Chinese vessels were infringing upon the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines, it demanded that they leave the area.

According to China’s coastguard, on Saturday, it took the appropriate action against Philippine vessels that were trespassing into its territorial seas.

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Nearly the whole South China Sea is claimed by China, including the Second Thomas Shoal, which lies within the 200-mile (320-kilometer) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.

In 1999, the Philippines purposefully grounded an antiquated cruiser in the shoal to support its territorial claims, and they have maintained a modest military presence there ever since.

China’s foreign ministry insisted on Monday that the Philippines has reneged on a promise to tow away the ship, “violating the commitments it has made to the Chinese side on many occasions.”
But the Philippines has repeatedly denied making such a commitment, and has said it will not abandon its position at the Second Thomas Shoal.
China has deployed hundreds of coastguard vessel throughout the South China Sea to patrol what it considers its waters, despite a 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in a case brought by Manila that said the claim had no basis under international law. China has refused to recognise that outcome.
In response to the incident, the heads of Philippine security met at a high level on Monday to draft recommendations for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. regarding the dispute’s future course.
Since assuming office in 2022, Marcos has maintained a firm stance against what he perceives to be Chinese aggression and has resisted Beijing’s push to avoid qualities that Beijing claims.
Tensions are rising as Marcos tries to strengthen ties with the US, an ally in the defense treaty, by giving US soldiers more access to US bases and extending cooperative air and sea patrols as part of military drills. China has expressed skepticism about these developments.
Washington denounced China’s “dangerous actions” and declared its support for the Philippines. Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom have all shown their support for the Philippines in remarks.
At a news briefing on Monday, Lin Jian, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, stated, “The U.S. is not a party to the South China Sea issue but has repeatedly intervened, provoked the maritime issues between China and the Philippines.”
Gilberto Teodoro, the defense secretary for the Philippines, made remarks on Monday that are certain to anger Beijing: he proposed that arbitration be used to demonstrate China’s maritime rights rather than leaving room for doubt.
“If China is not afraid to state its claims to the world, then why don’t we arbitrate under international law?” Teodoro of the Philippines informed reporters.
“No country believes (their claims) and they see this as their way to use force, intimidate and bend the Philippines to their ambitions.”

Editing by Martin Petty and Raju Gopalakrishnan; Additional reporting by Liz Lee in Beijing; Reporting by Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales

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